Checklist for New Parents

Becoming a new parent is an overwhelming but exciting time. There is so much to learn and so much to process before the baby arrives. Whether you are part of a couple giving birth, adopting, or a single parent bringing new life into the world, here are a few things to consider before your bundle of joy arrives.

Health Insurance

One of the first things to look into is how much your insurance will cover of your pregnancy, delivery, and hospital stay. If you are considering a midwife, or a method of birth that does not involve a hospital stay, be sure to research what your insurance will and will not cover. Another pro tip: look into how to add your child to your health insurance before they arrive as well.

Maternity & Family Leave

A lot of moms-to-be anticipate the conversation they will need to have with their boss. Chances are, the company you work for has a maternity leave policy already in place. Consider talking to the HR department, or reviewing the corporate notebook. You should also find out whether that policy falls in line with federal and state laws regarding family and medical leave. Don’t forget to ask about Paternity Leave. More employers than ever are also offering this benefit to fathers to assist in the first weeks of a new baby in the home.

Choosing a Pediatrician

Another important and big step: your baby’s pediatrician should be chosen before the birth of the baby. Take your time with this search, and interview potential candidates. Consider asking trusted family members and friends for recommendations, as well as your primary doctor or OB/Gyn.

Child Care

There are many choices for childcare. Talk with your partner about your options, consult family members, day care centers, and think about looking into home childcare. A popular option for some parents is to hire a nanny to lend a helping hand part or full time once mom and/or dad has to return to work.

Planning for the Future

One of the most important decisions you can make is choosing the godparents for your child(ren). The guardian(s) should be someone trustworthy and ready to take on the responsibility of caring for your child, should anything happen to you and your partner.

Life Insurance & College Savings

Now that your family has expanded, it is time to decide whether to increase your insurance coverage, or buy insurance for the first time in your life. Along those lines, it is never too early to think about saving for college. The way you save is up to you. Whether it is an account in the child’s name, or savings bonds and CDs, there are so many ways to start saving today.

Estate Planning!!!

After all the above considerations have been made, there is a step that absolutely should be taken, yet so many young families overlook this step until it is possibly too late. Consult your attorney about setting up a Will and other documents that reflect how you want your child cared for in the event of your death or incapacitation. This truly does not have to be expensive and does not take much time. Make estate planning a priority.

We know how much there is to consider, and what a great and wonderful responsibility becoming a new parent is. It can be immensely helpful to have a guide assisting you on this incredible path. Consider seeking the counsel of a family law attorney to ensure your family is protected in all the ways you want them to be.

Relationship Tips For Moms and Stepmoms

Blended families are common these days, which means biological mothers and stepmothers are co-parenting children. It can be a difficult course to navigate when dealing with an ex-wife or the new partner of an ex-husband, but the following tips can help both types of moms find a happy medium.

Communication

Communication is important in any relationship, but especially when children are involved. All information regarding the children should be passed on in a timely fashion to avoid frustration and escalation of serious issues.

Consideration

Calendars should be shared to avoid conflicts with events, appointments or travel. Under no circumstances should anything be scheduled with the intention of being inconvenient.

Respect

Both mothers should respect one another, especially when the children are present. This includes being aware of personal boundaries and not bringing up the past. If there is a personality conflict, keep it private. Children see and hear everything, and they will emulate adult behavior.

Maturity

As a stepmom, trying to buy the affection of a partner’s children may seem like an easy way to their hearts, but this often backfires. Children can see through the act, which may imply the stepmom is trying to be a replacement parent. The best approach is to not treat parenting as a competition. There is enough love for everyone.

Recognition

Encourage children to recognize the importance of the stepmother in their lives by celebrating her birthday and giving her a card and gift on Mother’s Day. Having a blended holiday celebration may help kids feels less awkward about acknowledgment.

Inclusion

During birthdays or other important milestone events in a child’s life, including the biological mother and stepmother at the celebration is a wonderful way to be inclusive and encourage positive relations. It also helps children avoid feeling conflicted during family parties and other get-togethers.

Acceptance

It can be difficult to deal with the fact that an ex-partner has chosen a new wife or will always be dealing with an ex-wife. The family dynamic changes are permanent but do not have to be negative. Accepting the other woman and the situation will facilitate civility and respect even if there cannot be a true friendship.

Being a mom is hard, and being a stepmom adds an extra layer of challenge. Following the above tips can help resolve strain and allow both parties to foster a respectful and healthy relationship.

What To Know About Emancipation

Emancipation refers to a legal process that frees a child from parental custody. Emancipation terminates the legal authority or control that a parent(s)/ has over their child before they attain majority age.

Who Can Be Emancipated?

For a minor to be free from his or her parent(s)’s custody, he or she must be at least 16 years old. Emancipation also requires the minor child to meet any one of the following requirements:

  • Reside away from his or her parents and earn a legal income that covers his or her basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.
  • Be married
  • Have to be enrolled in the armed forces of the U.S.
  • The court has to rule that emancipation serves the best interests of the minor child, his or her parents, or the minor child’s child.

Procedure For Becoming Emancipated

According to Tennessee law, the chancery court may grant a minor’s emancipation from his or her parents. The minor child or the minor child’s parents can initiate the emancipation process.

The party who initiates the process is required to file a petition for emancipation with the court. A lawyer may also file this form on behalf of their client. If the minor child needs legal representation to defend his or herself, or start the emancipation process, and cannot afford one, the probate court or juvenile court may appoint a lawyer the minor child.

When the process has been started, a hearing before a judge will be scheduled. The judge is the only legal authority that can authorize emancipation.

What Are the Rights of An Emancipated Teenager?

An emancipated teenager has certain legal rights and responsibilities that other children of the same age do not have. The following are some of the rights and responsibilities of an emancipated teenager:

  • The right to live away from home while paying rent and other costs associated with the new residence.
  • The right to seek medical care without consulting a guardian (the minor child is responsible for footing the medical bills).
  • The right to sign contracts — and the responsibility for any obligations laid out in the contract.
  • The right to sue and be sued.
  • The right to purchase and sell property.
  • The right to a marriage license, driver’s license or to enroll in the armed services.
  • The right to enroll in a learning institution.

If you are considering emancipation, it is important to contact an attorney. An expert in the area of family law can help you to understand your rights, and how to navigate the path to emancipation – should it serve in the best interests of you and your family.

Protecting Yourself After An Abusive Relationship

If you are experiencing an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to focus on what you should do first to protect yourself. Your first priority is simple: focus on getting yourself and any children involved to a safe place. Statistics have shown that the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the woman or man who is the victim attempts to leave the relationship. The primary goal is to find safe housing where the abuser can’t reach you.

The Danger is Real

Do not seek shelter with a parent, friend or other person where the abuser knows where to look for you. Ideally, safe housing can be found in a shelter specifically designed to deal with victims of abusive relationships. Please understand that these private shelters are usually very nice and clean. If your concern is that a “shelter” will not be suitable for you and your children, the concern is usually unfounded. Many shelters will allow you to tour the facility with special permission and a sworn statement of confidentiality. If, however, none is available, consider staying at a hotel or with a person you know that the abuser does not.

Have a Plan

Because of the unstable nature of abusive relationships, you may have to leave suddenly with little preparation. However, if there is no immediate crisis and you have time to plan your departure, here are some things you should do:

  • Put aside as much cash as you can in a safe place.
  • Leave essential items like clothes and documents with a friend.
  • Keep a detailed record of every incident of emotional or physical abuse.
  • Keep a contact list of people who can help you.
  • Be prepared to take important documents like your social security and credit cards.

Child Custody

One of the most complicated issues to deal with in breaking free of domestic violence is the relationship between your children and your abuser. Restraining orders are often temporary and the courts must resolve long-term issues of custody. The key to protecting your children and discovering your full range of legal options is to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Laws involving domestic violence and child custody vary widely depending on the state and locality. A lawyer can alert you to all your legal options.

Leaving an abusive relationship and protecting yourself and your children is a challenging task. Always remember that you are not alone and that there are people ready to help.

Services are available to help include: The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 303-839-1852.